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Your $5 Ma’am: An Approach By A Serial Killer

By Christopher Caile

A recent mass forwarded e-mail I received highlights just how creative potential attackers can be in their tactics to get you to let your guard down.

In teaching self-defense we always talk about constant awareness: being on your guard when approached by strangers, avoiding groups of people in the streets and avoiding dangerous places in general. But what about someone who is trying to return money to you, offering to help you carry a package, approaching to ask directions, or someone on crutches asking for your assistance?

The incident portrayed below attributed to Margaret Wade from Lafayette, LA, is scary. It illustrates the potential danger in one of those scenarios. Hopefully, her account may make you just a little more aware and careful too.

As some readers may know from the news or America's Most Wanted TV program, there is a serial killer active in Lafayette. This incident recently happened and it could have been deadly.

It was 5:15 am in the morning and Wade was on her way to work after staying over at a friend’s house. On her way to work she stopped at an Exxon/Blimpie station to get gas. She got $10 in gas and a Diet Coke. She recounts that “I took into the store two $5 bills and one $1 bill (just enough to get my stuff).”

As she started to pull away, a man approached her vehicle from the backside of the store, and as he knocked on her window. He was clean cut, shaven and well dressed, Wade noted, someone who was “approachable looking.”

Since Wade was admittedly “very paranoid” and "always looking for the rapist or killer," she didn't open the window. She just asked what he wanted.

The man held up a $5 bill and said “you dropped this.” Luckily, Wade knew how much money she had taken into the store, what she had spent and how much change she should have. Thus, she said it wasn’t hers. Then the man began pounding on the window and door, screaming at her to open the door and insisting that she had dropped the money.

At this point, she just drove away as fast as she could.

Initially Wade didn’t contact the police because she didn’t realize how serious the encounter had been. But she did talk to a few people in the jail where she was employed, and shortly thereafter Internal Affairs got involved and asked her to recount her story.

Wade recounted the events, and it was determined that the man who had approached her vehicle may have been the much-publicized serial killer. Her story may also just have uncovered the tactic he used to access his victims. While Wade may never know who the man was for sure, the incident illustrates an important principle: always be careful and be on your guard when approached by strangers.

The story also highlights the fact that those intent on robbing, raping or even killing can be very ingenious in their approaches. They need not force entry or break in to be successful. If you have your guard down, if you are not aware, or think that clean shaven, good looking people who approach you “must be OK,” you might be inviting trouble. After all, what is nicer than having someone return money to you that you have dropped?

Ask yourself, would I have opened your vehicle window to accept the five dollars?

This is a sad story too. We want to be able to trust people too or help those who genuinely need assistance. I still think this is possible, but we also have to be careful. Be extra careful of the environment. There is more potential danger when you are isolated, alone or at night without others around. It is safer in public places and where there are others who can assist you.

Remember, what looks innocent, may not be. Always be on your guard.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of He has been a student of the martial arts for over 43 years. He first started in judo. Then he added karate as a student of Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and then hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama and later in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th degree black belt in that organization's honbu dojo. Other experience includes aikido, diato-ryu aikijujutsu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto Muso-ryu jodo, kobudo, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including Praying mantis, Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) and shuai chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from American University in Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively through South and Southeast Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and Okinawa to continue his studies in the martial arts, their history and tradition. In his professional life he has been a businessman, newspaper journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Serial killers, street self-defense, self-defense, street crime

Read more articles by Christopher Caile

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